Arms Wide Open

Tuesday was one of the hard days. 

I have to admit, they are getting fewer and farther between. But they still come around. I was at my therapy session Tuesday evening and the tears poured out of my eyes while I talked. Earlier in the day, I was in a long, boring meeting and they were putting lots of dates up on the screen. The dates were related to conversions and upgrades and all kinds of work-related stuff. But I saw dates that meant to me, “should be 26 weeks pregnant and about to take that glucose test” or “due date” or “maternity leave” and I choked up.

I also think in my own grief, I haven’t given Craig enough attention. I haven’t asked him how he’s feeling about the whole thing. I’ve been pretty self-absorbed and I worry that I’ve forgotten (through my in-actions) that Craig is grieving a lost child, too.

My therapist made a good point by asking me how Craig is doing and whether he talks about it. I know that men are different and might not be as apt to discuss their feelings or cry openly. But I couldn’t answer her because I don’t know how he’s doing and he hasn’t been as open as I have been about the grief I feel. I need to give Craig the opportunity to do that and I don’t. Part of it is because we’re really not alone, just the two of us, all that often. So I don’t really get the chance. But I need to remedy that. He and I need some time together. Alone. For whatever — to just hang out, to talk about lost dreams or broken hearts, to cry…

When I think about Gregory and what might have been, I think about having my family with three girls and then three boys. I had a hunch he was a boy from the earliest part of pregnancy and I started dreaming the Brady Bunch dream, ya know? I thought that God knows me so well that I need this symmetry in my family of three girls and then three boys — it provided balance in my brain and in my heart and I was so happy about it. I dreamed of my boys playing baseball or basketball or football together. I dreamed of those boys wreaking havoc on their older sisters every chance they could. I dreamed of Vincent being able to be a big brother. I dreamed of one more stair step in my sequence…making my family complete. I still feel like we’re complete (I’ve always felt our family was complete after each of my children) but that Gregory’s place just isn’t here with us. Painful as it may be, that is just the way it is. Gregory is no less my son and a part of our family because he is already a Saint.

Surely Craig had dreams, too. I remember as we drove home from the hospital with all five kids in the car shortly after Vincent was born and Craig saying to me, “Ah, I just realized when I get to have a beer with Vincent, I’ll be almost 61 years old…” I see Craig play cars with the boys, or try to teach Dominic how to catch the ball and I know he surely thought about playing with Gregory, too. Maybe having “guy time” as they all got older, and going to movies or just hanging out on the deck grilling, maybe playing cards.

I know that having a child in heaven is a blessing…one that I will appreciate more in the years to come than I do now. As I walked to my little corner at work Tuesday trying to hold off the tears, I thought about the fact that when I’m old, I’ll probably refer to Gregory fondly as my Saint in heaven waiting to welcome me.

Saturday I heard the song by Creed, “With Arms Wide Open.”

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I’ll show you love
I’ll show you everything

As I listened to it, of course, the tears started. Craig’s and my arms were wide open to greet Gregory. We love him so much and miss him and are sad that we did not get the opportunity to welcome him to this place and show him everything. And now, for us, even though he was born to heaven, everything has changed — for us and for Gregory. We are left with a piece of us gone, Gregory gets to experience Love, Himself. 

In my stronger moments, I think about the lyrics to this song and I think about what it will be like, God willing, when Craig and I come to heaven…and Gregory’s arms will be wide open to welcome us to that place and he’ll be able to show us the way to Love.

That’s my prayer, anyway.